Supergirl recap: 'Exodus'
Alex and Kara do the wrong things for the right reasons to stop Cadmus
From the beginning, Supergirl has had an exceptional handle on Kara and Alex’s relationship. Most of the first season’s best moments usually involved their strong and poignant bond; however, the second season lost some of that with the introduction of Maggie and Mon-El, their love interests for the season. Thankfully, the show’s focus returns to Danvers sisters’ relationship as it finds both of them disobeying orders to do what they believe is right.
Cadmus hasn’t wasted any time using the National Alien Registry to round up aliens. “Exodus” opens with Cadmus foot soldiers illegally arresting a harmless alien family, and the episode’s first act ends with Cadmus forces barging into the Snakehole Lounge (aka The Alien Bar) and apprehending everyone inside, including Winn’s new girlfriend Lyra. Alex and Maggie try their hardest in the incoherent action scene to protect everyone at the bar, but they can’t. Luckily, a last-minute assist from Guardian allows Alex and Maggie to capture one of the Cadmus foot soldiers.
You can image the present situation is especially hard on the Danvers sisters, both of whom take different approaches to dealing with the situation. Alex is still pretty messed up by her father’s betrayal, which has pushed her to the edge, but she’s still determined to be there when the DEO finds him because she believes there’s some good in him and she doesn’t want the DEO to kill him. When J’onn fails to get anything out of the foot solider in their custody — Cadmus somehow found a way to block J’onn’s telepathy because this show needs to de-power J’onn to maintain some level of stakes — Alex embraces her inner Jack Bauer and interrogates him. Torture on television is usually annoying because it’s been proven not to work, but here it makes sense since Jeremiah’s betrayal is taking Alex to a very dark place — and Chyler Leigh is delivering a very believable performance. Anyway, J’onn pulls Alex off before she does anything she regrets.
While Alex is kicking it like it’s 2004, the show remembers that Kara works for CatCo, which means Kara tries using her job as a reporter to help the aliens who have been abducted. She approaches Snapper Carr about publishing a story about Cadmus stealing the National Alien Registry, but Snapper — who fires off some shots at the proliferation of fake news and says misreporting could put a fascist in the White House — correctly rejects her pitch because Supergirl is the story’s only source. With no other option, Kara offers Snapper an exclusive interview with Supergirl to convince him that the story is legit. Alas, that doesn’t work either; Snapper’s interview with our favorite hero is a bust since Supergirl can’t tell him how she knows Cadmus stole the registry.
That night, Jeremiah shows up at Alex’s apartment and asks her to steal something from the DEO that will help him stop Lillian Luthor. Alex hesitates, but Jeremiah plays the family card, and Alex agrees — which means she failed J’onn’s test. See, J’onn shapeshifted into Jeremiah to test Alex because he was worried she was compromised, and it turns out she was. So, J’onn suspends her, and Kara agrees with him. But Alex has an ally in Maggie, who agrees that Alex needs to do whatever she needs to protect her father.
So, TV’s best couple ambushes a group of Cadmus agents trying to kidnap another innocent alien. They subdue them and steal their van’s GPS info to get the location of Cadmus’ base. One of the things I love about this episode is the fact that Alex is responsible for driving the main plot, and Kara is sort of stuck in subplot land. Alex’s desperation to find Jeremiah fuels the episode and makes everything feel even more heightened.
Meanwhile, Lillian, Jeremiah and the rest of Cadmus are chilling at the abandoned Luthor Naval Solutions facility as their alien prisoners are loaded onto a ship. Like last week, parts of tonight’s story only work because the show dumbs down the DEO. I don’t for a second believe that the DEO hasn’t been monitoring all of Lex Luthor’s holdings, especially since they found Lillian and Cyborg Superman at an abandoned Luthor facility the last time they faced them. But I digress…
Alex isn’t the only Danvers sister who disobeys orders. Lena Luthor gives Kara the idea to start a blog and publish her article about the theft of the National Alien Registry. Obviously, Kara is hesitant about going forward with this plan because it would piss Snapper off, but Mon-El tells her she should do it if she thinks it’s the right thing to do. So Kara self-publishes her story.
Alex tracks Cadmus down to Luthor Naval Solutions, where she is reunited with her father, who explains exactly what Project Exodus is: Cadmus plans on rounding up the aliens, loading them onto this ship and returning them to their home planets. Jeremiah came up with this eerily timely plan as a way to protect his daughters and to stop Lillian from just killing every alien in the city. Jeremiah says he was doing for his daughters, but Alex makes it clear that neither she nor Kara would want him to do anything that would hurt others.
Unfortunately, Alex and Jeremiah’s family reunion is cut short by Lillian, who activates Project Exodus ahead of time because Kara’s social media game is too hot and the entire world knows about Cadmus’ plan. In that moment, Jeremiah is forced to choose between Lillian and Alex, who came prepared and planted explosives all around the hangar. Jeremiah makes the right choice and stays behind to fight Cadmus goons and Cyborg Superman while Alex rushes onto the ship to stop it from reaching the atmosphere and jumping to light-speed. Alex can’t slow the ship down in time, so it’s up to Kara to do it by force.
The show’s limited budget becomes an asset in this final sequence because it forces the story to focus less on Supergirl using her strength to stop the ship and more on the Danvers sisters’ relationship, which raises the stakes. As Kara pushes back against the front of the ship, she comes face to face with her sister, who is in the cockpit cheering her on. Kara sees and hears her sister and places her hand on top of Alex’s through the glass, an effective reminder that the Danvers sisters ultimately find strength in each other. (Blake Neely’s score also adds to the tension and makes the moment even more moving.) Furthermore, it reminds us that the one downside of the focus on Alex and Maggie’s relationship is that we haven’t had that many great Alex-Kara moments this season. Inspired by her sister, Kara is able to slow down the ship down in time; however, I’ll admit that the direction, editing, and scoring definitely made me worried that she wouldn’t and that Alex would actually be flung into space along with the rest of the aliens.
So, both Danvers sisters disobeyed their superiors to save people; however, their actions have different outcomes. J’onn admits he was wrong for benching Alex and ends her suspension. Meanwhile, Snapper fires Kara from Catco, which isn’t all that surprising because the show, unfortunately, has been spending less time at CatCo this season. That night, Mon-El comes over to Kara’s apartment to cheer her up, and Kara opens up about why she’s so bummed about getting fired.
“When I write, I don’t need a yellow sun. It’s just me. Supergirl is what I can do, Kara is who I am,” says Kara.
That statement reveals how Supergirl diverges from Superman/Kal-El. As we’ve seen on Smallville or in other Superman stories, Superman is Clark’s true identity and Clark Kent is his mask. The situation is reversed here because Kara honestly views what she does as Kara Danvers the Reporter to be just as important as — possibly even more important than — flying around and saving the day. While this is development fleshes out Kara even more, it has the unintended effect of undermining the whole James/Guardian story line. It definitely feels like James doesn’t recognize that he does have the power to help people as the editor-in-chief of CatCo.
UPDATE: Many of you pointed out that Kara was quoting a famous Clark Kent quote, which I didn’t realize and which led me to misinterpret the scene and Supergirl. It is true that this is typically what we expect from Superman and Supergirl.
As the episode ends, Kara says she hopes being Supergirl and having Mon-El will be enough, but, there might be trouble on the horizon for their relationship. The episode’s closing moments reveal that guest stars Teri Hatcher and Kevin Sorbo — who are referred to as “highnesses” — are on the ship we saw in the midseason finale. I’m not saying the show just confirmed the obvious theory that Mon-El is the prince of Daxam, but it basically did, right?